Floridians discover that self-reliance works better than government
It was with a mixture of amusement and aggravation that I read Sunday’s Orlando Sentinel, which featured a front-page article on the progress of debris removal after Hurricane Irma.
After a month of waiting for some sign that FEMA contractors would appear to pick up piles of rotting wood on the side of roads all over Central Florida, residents finally discovered what life was like before FEMA.
Some enterprising teenagers and others have begun applying the beauty of capitalism to the sloth-like pace with which government works. They have discovered that our government has no motivation to do anything quickly or efficiently and faces no consequences for moving at about the same speed as a glacier when it comes to serving our community. One group of enterprising teenagers had earned over $2,000 doing what our tax dollars were supposed to do.
Universal cannot force anyone to visit its parks. Universal would have faced dire consequences if it cleaned up limbs as fast as our government. Yet, the Sentinel article also pointed out another interesting fact.
Apparently, there are local and federal rules and regulations concerning how and where storm debris can be disposed of.
These rules have led to bureaucratic hurdles that have slowed down the rate at which hard-working people can clear our streets and make some money to take care of their needs. The irony here is self-evident. First, the government charges us income taxes to pay for FEMA then fails to do its job with anything resembling urgency.
Then, sick of waiting for our tax dollars to be put to productive uses, private citizens spend their own money and time to clean up our state — only to have the same government slow down that process as well. As a free-market economist, I find it would be easy to contend that our friends in Puerto Rico would be better served if FEMA were turned over to Wal-Mart, Home Depot and other profit-centered businesses.
In some ways I actually feel sorry for folks who work for government who actually care about being good public servants. They are unfortunately attempting to be productive in a system that rarely rewards productivity. This is why the limbs are still on the side of the road.
Jack A. Chambless is an economics professor at Valencia College and a senior fellow with the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee.